The numbers speak for themselves: 1.6 billion users over 180 nations. Further, it is the messaging king in 133 of those places. WhatsApp’s dominance shows no sign of slowing, which makes it all the more interesting that many marketers are only just coming to understand the platform’s full potential.
Smartphones and chat apps are ubiquitous in the lives of modern consumers, so Marketing through these platforms only makes sense. WhatsApp remains ad-free, but upcoming platform changes and the potential for chatbot integration offer unparalleled Marketing opportunities in an industry that continues to bring players into the market.
This platform presents countless Digital Marketing opportunities – which the vast majority of industry players continue to ignore. Let’s discuss how brands can put the chat platform at the front of their brand strategies and campaigns going forward.
One Chat at a Time
It makes sense that many advertisers remain uncertain when it comes to WhatsApp. After all, running ads on an ad-free platform might appear counterintuitive. However, those user numbers should have savvy marketers thinking about how to get creative and unlock the platform to their advantage – and this is exactly what some have been doing.
The very nature of the chat platform has resulted in advertising experimentation to host live recipe services, multimedia competitions, and direct customer communication all in the name of new-age marketing. Take this campaign by Toyota by Toyota in 2012. The company brilliantly used WhatsApp’s functionality to its advantage to promote their proposal through a contest. To participate, users were asked to include the word “Hybridized” in their WhatsApp status. Users who registered were then in a weekly ballot to receive an iPhone.
As a result, Toyota was included in the statuses of thousands of users while renewing audience interest with the weekly draw. Those who do use crafty ways to get around the lack of ads on the platform find great success – with WhatsApp campaigns improving upon email and phone. One case, for example, resulted in 90% decrease in lapsed subscribers; 40% increase in message open rate, 66% decrease in the time it took to reactivate lapsed subscriptions.
Platform Features into Secret Advertising Weapons
Any agency trying to use the platform to their advantage must be creative – and this is only made possible by unique takes on WhatsApp features. For instance, the platform has its own status feature, which allows users to upload posts as statuses that disappear after 24 hours. This can be handy for those who want to be less aggressive in their Marketing, but the status feature can also be a great way to announce flash Sales or offers to customers. For instance, users could be asked to take a screenshot of the QR code on the brand’s WhatsApp status and present it instore to receive a discount on purchases.
On top of the status feature, brands can also share their location with enquiring customers. If someone wants to know where the store is, the brand can directly send them the location in WhatsApp. The recipient will be then able to open it on their phones in Google Maps.
It is not only marketing but market research which is enabled by WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s Business API allows medium and large companies to communicate with customers inside their zone of comfort and familiarity on a large automatable scale. The solution allows businesses to integrate WhatsApp with their management tools and send message notification templates to an unlimited number of people – the sending of these templates being the first-ever monetization of WhatsApp. Further, this enables chatbot integration to provide instantaneous customer interaction at all hours of the day. Clearly, a new direction is on the horizon for the world’s biggest chat platform.
Why Brands Must Prepare Today
Tomorrow is going to look different on the world’s biggest chat platform. WhatsApp will be introducing adverts to its messaging app next year, Facebook has confirmed. The technology giant revealed the ads will appear within WhatsApp statuses – a feature similar to Instagram stories. The ads would take up the entire screen of a smartphone and allow users to find out more information about the advertiser by swiping up.
It remains to be seen how users react to these changes. The MessengerPeople Study 2018 demonstrated that two factors are decisive in Content Marketing on WhatsApp: shareability and attention. If direct adverts keep these tenants they may stand a fighting chance. Instagram stories have integrated adverts into their offering without impacting too heavily upon the content, so one can predict WhatsApp to follow a similar path.
Chatbots look to play a major role in the continued development of WhatsApp business advertising. These conversation tools not only provide round-the-clock responses but help to check on customer orders, complete transactions and generate leads. They can both issue practical advice on tracked orders and pick-up points, while also forming the first port of call for customer query. Expect these tools, which are only improving in human-like conversation, to become an important element in such campaigns going forward.
The key takeaway is that messaging apps are becoming the hottest communication channel and WhatsApp is planning to become more and more open to businesses. This means the trend is likely to grow and turn from a marketing trend to veteran strategy. Right now, brands have a great opportunity to be some of the first in their industries to tap into WhatsApp. The key is to get in on it while it’s still young and many other businesses ignore the opportunity.
Advertisers are best advised to prepare for these changes – which means making the most of Content Marketing opportunities today before platform changes tomorrow.